Sunday, June 12, 2011

Plans that "don't work out."

David and I wanted to listen to some local music last night and saw some advertised in both the local papers, the Bend Bulletin and the Source Weekly, at Bend's PoetHouse Art in downtown, so we went there but found that the papers had mis-advertised and there was no music. Bummer. But the two artists there (PoetHouse Art is an art studio and workshop space) were so nice and helpful - they pulled over a laptop and searched and found another local musician playing at The Silver Moon. So, we thanked them and went on our way. Meanwhile, Dan joins us (thinking that the original musician is playing at PoetHouse) so we decide to get a walk in and wander on down to The Silver Moon.

Silver Moon is kind of on the outskirts of downtown area and we were feeling like it might not be where we want to be because of the street being kind of dark and that area of town looking less "cool" than the downtown area. But then we noticed that there were no Harley's outside the bar, only bicycles parked right out front. OK, well, this is Bend, we say to each other, and go into what looks like a rather funky bar (no offense intended Silver Moon folks).

What we found was that The Silver Moon is yet another brewery among Bend's dozen or so. The music hadn't started yet but the guys spotted the pool table, thought it'd be fun to play a round or two, so we decided to hang out until the music started. Our waitress was really sweet and had a great sense of humor about her and also really fun energy. So, we sat down and ordered some brews on tap. Great beers! We got curious about the food, so we asked to see a menu. Surprise! This place was not a "dive" at all. Maybe a little funky looking around the edges but definitely totally cool. There were vegan and vegetarian appetizers and entrees, homemade pizza, great looking salads, and, of course, the burgers. The guys played a couple rounds of pool then came back when the music got started. Lief James was the musician/songwriter. Strong acoustic guitar with a singing and musical style that reminded me of Bruce Springsteen a bit. He had good energy and we were having fun. So, we ordered a pizza. Delicious! Wow! Who knew? Well, apparently, the locals. Because the place started getting packed with a cross demographic of locals all having a good time.

We thought, "OK, this was fun, now it's time to go on home." We left and started walking to our cars when we spotted THE DUMPLING GUYS. These are local guys who make the best dumplings in the world and sell them on the street corner (of Bond and Minnesota) from a food cart. Of course, they have vegan dumplings, homemade sausage dumplings, south-of-the-border style dumplings, and more. And they are soooo good. So, we stop and have a dumpling. Yum.

There were some young musicians setting up so we asked them if they're going to play and they told us (in a very friendly and open, welcoming way) that they are celebrating the Dump City Dumpling's 1-year anniversary with some free music. They started to play and we were surprised at how really very good they were. (I say this because they looked like they must have been high school age.) Their band (I think they said it was called New Side Jazz Quartet but don't hold me to that) consisted of trap drums, sax, keyboard and base. We listened  and started to chatting with some other folks hanging around and had a great time.

We were struck by how everyone was so nice and open and into chatting and just having a good time. Shouldn't this be normal? Why isn't every place like this? I guess we just haven't been used to it, so it struck us as strikingly unusual.

All in all, we had a wonderful evening, didn't have to spend a lot of money, and it was all healthy (beer is good for you - it's a medical fact, you can look it up) and it was all in good fun. Babies and little kids hanging out with teens and young adults with middle-aged and some of us older farts - all enjoying one another's company.

Now, David and I could have just gotten bummed out about not being able to hear the musician we'd planned on but we went with the flow and it was better than we had imagined. Good idea. Just sharing it. Gotta go. There's a hiking trail calling. Later.

I love this poem by Walt Whitman

by Walt Whitman

Why, who makes much of a miracle?
As to me I know of nothing else but miracles,
Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan,
Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of
   the water,
Or stand under trees in the woods,
Or talk by day with any one I love, or sleep in the bed at night
   with any one I love,
Or sit at table at dinner with the rest,
Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
Or watch honey-bees busy around the hive of a summer
Or animals feeding in the fields,
Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so
   quiet and bright,
Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles,
The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.

To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle,
Every cubic inch of space is a miracle,
Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with
   the same,
Every foot of the interior swarms with the same.

To me the sea is a continual miracle,
The fishes that swim—the rocks—the motion of the waves—
   the ships with men in them,
What stranger miracles are there?

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Haiku - who knew?

I got to attend the most enlightening workshop last Sunday, June 5, on a poetry form I've never considered as a "true" form (ever since being subjected to "learning" it in high school, meaning that I was taught several urban myths about it that were completely incorrect and misguiding). What poetry form could that be, you may ask? Haiku!

Yes! You read it right - haiku! The reason I never gave it notice before? When I was "taught" haiku in high school English class, we were told the form of specific syllables for each of the three lines had to be 5/7/5. Wrong! Complete myth based on a lack of understanding about Japanese language and how a form like this one translates into English. The stressing of the ever-and-all-importance of syllables caused me to feel like this form was just another stilted, rigid form. But here's the deal. In Japanese, syllables are inconsequential. It's the sounds within each word that matter. And the Japanese hear language sounds quite differently than we English-speaking folks do. So, when we write haiku in English, we must throw away that silly rule of 5/7/5 syllable count. It has absolutely nothing to do with haiku. It never did. What I learned in that workshop was that haiku is a tremendously huge poetry expression held inside a very, very small package. The spirit of the haiku is more important than the form.  Revelation! That's what poetry is all about, in any form, including free verse. Ah ha!

The workshop was led by Michael Dylan Welch, the vice-president of the Haiku Society of America and sponsored by a local chapter, hosted by haiku poet An'ya. Michael also touched very briefly on the related Japanese poetry forms of senryu, tanka, and renga (which are also very fascinating forms that I want to continue to study and learn more on).

Anyway, for those who have been misled by well-meaning but misguided high school teachers, please check out the Haiku Society of America website: and let your walls be shattered about haiku. The purpose of this very short form (at least as I understand it right now) is to zero in on the specific in order to reveal the universal. Well, that's poetry in any language or form! By abstaining from any author subjective opinion, remaining (as much as possible) objective, and only observing any given thing/event/person etc., the poem finds the universal.

There's so much to learn about haiku and its related forms! I understand that I know truly nothing right now but, nevertheless, I feel I've stepped onto a whole new path of expression that is both the exploring of new literary lands and, yet, immediately placing me into that new land, too. It's like you just start walking and you become aware of how you're already there because "there" and "here" are actually one and the same. You're just walking the path to get "here" a little more fully with each step. OK, this is really a ramble, now, and that's what I tend to do and that's why this form is so good for me to practice. Less talk. More just being present. Good focus.

Here's a haiku by Michael Dylan Welch:

the black elder
shakes its shadow loose...
early snowfall

Here's a few haiku I wrote during and after the workshop: 

lilac exhales sweetness 
into the park - 
finches chorus 

the robin's prize: 
seed, blossom, tight in her beak - 
clouds hold the sun 

yellow bush
petals blown, suspended
bees hum